LONDON — An initiative designed to tackle Britain’s persistent problem with violent knife crimes is being described as racist by critics after the government began placing antiknife messages on fried-chicken boxes nationwide.

Critics of the campaign, announced by Britain’s Home Office on Wednesday, have said it leans into an offensive stereotype about fried-chicken consumers and targets a segment of the population that has been demonized by the knife crime trend.

The campaign will see more than 300,000 chicken boxes with the anticrime message distributed in fast-food restaurants across England and Wales.

According to statistics published by the BBC, there have been 43,516 knife-related crimes from March 2018 through March of this year, and medical workers have reported that wounds are becoming more severe. That marks an 80 percent increase from March 2014.


The Home Office defended the plan in a statement on Thursday, saying the initiative is targeted at young people ages 10 to 21 years old from all backgrounds.